CAR — The Connected Action RoadmapCARdiagramMultiColor-whitebkgrd-432px

The Connected Action Roadmap is a process that empowers PLCs to operate more effectively in schools and leads to improved student learning. Using guided conversations to unpack standards into clear learning objectives and cluster these objectives into units of study, educators use the CAR framework to challenge common assumptions and engage in deeper conversations.

The goal of this collaboration is to develop a viable curriculum that aligns standards, student learning objectives, instructional design, and assessments. To better understand the CAR process, click on this article written by NJPSA Executive Director Pat Wright, published in the 2019 Issue of Educational Viewpoints.

Statement of Vision and Commitment

Connected Action Roadmap: A Systems Approach to Strengthening Teaching, Leading, and Learning

The New Jersey Department of Education, in collaboration with the major New Jersey educational organizations, seeks to ensure equitable access to high quality education and post-secondary success for all students. We value a strategic and collaborative approach that connects standards-based curriculum, instruction, assessment and professional learning in a school culture that promotes an ongoing process of reflection on and growth in student learning. We commit to strengthening teaching, leading, and learning by supporting districts to:

  • develop a viable standards-based curriculum that directly informs classroom instruction and assessment;
  • create a comprehensive assessment system that includes ongoing formative and summative assessments resulting in data that informs practice and drives student learning;
  • promote a shared understanding of effective teaching, leading, and learning that informs job-embedded professional learning;
  • operate as professional learning communities characterized by strong collaboration, shared leadership with a focus on curriculum, instruction, and assessment; and
  • foster a climate for student and adult learning marked by mutual respect, shared leadership, and high expectations for every student.

We believe that a comprehensive statewide commitment to these principles will continue New Jersey’s standing as a national leader in educational practice.

Upcoming Professional Learning Sessions on the Connected Action Roadmap (CAR)

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What makes the Connected Action Roadmap different from other school improvement programs I have tried in the past?

A. The Connected Action Roadmap is not a program or an initiative or a step-by-step set of instructions to follow promising amazing results like an infomercial. Rather, CAR is a process, a framework that can be applied at any school in many different ways. We have learned that relying on programs can be ineffective and leads to initiative fatigue, as schools search for new programs every year to comply with new mandates. CAR is a sustainable practice that can continue to evolve.

Q. How do you know that this process works?

A. Over the past three years, more than 30 schools in New Jersey have been taking part in a pilot program to use the Connected Action Roadmap and report on its success. Results have been extremely positive and encouraging.

Q. What is the expected outcome?

A. The ultimate outcome is improved student learning and achievement. Other outcomes include improved climate and culture, collaborative teamwork, and better leadership capacity.

Q. What is the CAR metaphor all about?

A. The metaphor is merely an easy- to-remember way to think about the process of the journey to student learning. Teachers and principals are drivers; professional learning communities are reliable vehicles; a viable curriculum is your map or GPS; school climate and culture is the terrain of the road; and formative and summative assessments are the directional signs and guideposts that help to keep you on track.

Q. What is the first step in the process?

A. The first step is for professional learning communities to unpack the NJ Learning Standards through guided conversations using a common language. Teams of educators from across the state have worked with the NJDOE Office of Standards and Assessment staff to unpack the ELA and math standards into clear specific learning goals and place them into suggested units of study. These Curriculum Units are now available on the NJDOE website for all who are interested in using them for this process.

Q. Who uses the Connected Action Roadmap?

A. Teams of school leaders working together in professional learning communities. Without CAR, PLCs have a tendency to get off track and lack purpose. The CAR framework helps to focus the work of PLCs on teacher practice and student learning.

Q. Does the Connected Action Roadmap promote teamwork?

A. Absolutely. The Connected Action Roadmap is intended for teams of educational leaders to work together collaboratively. We have learned that a punitive focus on accountability without support has had negative consequences. A collaborative approach like the Connected Action Roadmap has proven to be much more effective.

Q. What is the role of the New Jersey Department of Education in the Connected Action Roadmap?

A. The NJDOE has identified the Connected Action Roadmap as its vision for teaching and learning in New Jersey schools. The department is partnering with the major education organizations to promote CAR, not as a mandate, but as a best practice, strategic and collaborative approach to developing a standards-based curriculum that fosters equitable outcomes for students. Educators from across the state are working with the Office of Standards and Assessment staff to unpack the ELA and math standards into clear specific learning goals, which will be placed into suggested units of study and made available to all educators. Together, the NJDOE and the education organizations have signed on to the Statement of Vision and Commitment to the Connected Action Roadmap: A Systems Approach to Strengthening Teaching, Leading, and Learning.

2019-2020 Pilot Schools – Strengthening Teaching, Leading, and Learning

During the 2019-2020 school year, 10 New Jersey school districts took part in a pilot program, being offered and funded through a partnership with the New Jersey Department of Education, the Overdeck Family Foundation and the Foundation for Educational Administration. The purpose of the pilot is to engage 10 school districts that are committed to utilizing selected grade levels of the newly released NJDOE Instructional Units in ELA and/or Math within the Connected Action Roadmap (CAR) process. This pilot is intended to build the capacity of educators in New Jersey schools to work effectively in professional learning communities (PLCs) using the newly released NJDOE Instructional Units in ELA and/or Math. In keeping with Commissioner Repollet’s call for, “Equity in action,” the overarching intent of the pilot is to assist districts in ensuring that every student has access to a viable standards-based curriculum.

To learn more about the Connected Action Roadmap and how to use the NJDOE Instructional Units in Math and ELA in your school, call us at 609-860-1200 or e-mail Donna McInerney at

Click here for a brief overview of the CAR Framework